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Bishop's Opening (C23)
1 e4 e5 2 Bc4

Number of games in database: 387
Years covered: 1620 to 2017
Overall record:
   White wins 46.3%
   Black wins 35.7%
   Draws 18.1%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Wilhelm Steinitz  12 games
Howard Staunton  10 games
John Cochrane  10 games
NN  10 games
John Cochrane  8 games
Howard Staunton  8 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Denker vs A R Shayne, 1945
Philidor vs NN, 1749
T Bowdler vs H Conway, 1788
M Hewitt vs Steinitz, 1866
La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
Cochrane vs Staunton, 1841
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 page 1 of 16; games 1-25 of 387  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. NN vs Greco 0-1151620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
2. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
3. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
4. Greco vs NN 1-0241620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
5. NN vs Greco 0-181620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
6. Greco vs NN 1-0191620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
7. Greco vs NN 1-0221620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
8. Greco vs NN 1-0231620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
9. Philidor vs NN 1-0401749UnknownC23 Bishop's Opening
10. J Bruehl vs Philidor 0-1471783Blindfold simulC23 Bishop's Opening
11. J Bruehl vs Philidor ½-½441787LondonC23 Bishop's Opening
12. T Bowdler vs H Conway 1-0231788Casual GameC23 Bishop's Opening
13. J Bruehl vs H Conway 1-0391788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
14. J Bruehl vs Harrowby 1-0261788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
15. H Conway vs J Bruehl 1-0411788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
16. J Bruehl vs Cotter 1-0331788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
17. H Conway vs Philidor 0-1461790LondonC23 Bishop's Opening
18. Sheldon vs Philidor 0-1311790LondonC23 Bishop's Opening
19. G Atwood vs Cotter 0-1321795CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
20. Cotter vs G Atwood 0-1281795CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
21. NN vs F von Mauvillon 0-1301804CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
22. J Cazenove vs T Hull 1-0231818CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
23. Cochrane vs NN 1-0191822CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
24. Edinburgh vs London 0-1551824Correspondence matchC23 Bishop's Opening
25. Edinburgh vs London ½-½351824Correspondence matchC23 Bishop's Opening
 page 1 of 16; games 1-25 of 387  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 9 OF 10 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-20-09  chessman95: <FiveofSwords: Now concerning the strongest players in the world and the openings they pick. They often dont really have a reason.>

That's not true. You went on in that post to give an explaination of why you play the Bishop's Opening, Scotch, etc; if you really think that you have logical reasons for the openings you play and the top chess players in the world do not then you're crazy.

<ive studied the ruy plenty, it used to be all I played, and now that i always play the scotch or bishop's opening i must say that I tend to keep a more solid advantage in either of those than I ever did in the ruy.>

It's pretty much an undisputed fact that the Ruy is stronger than the Scotch, Bishop's Opening, or any other line in the Open Games. I remember that you also said on another page that you play the Alapin Sicilian instead of the Open Sicilian because you don't get why the move 2.Nf3 is played. If you're having trouble with openings like the Ruy or Open Sicilian that are obviously theoretically superior, then the solution is not to avoid them and play 'easier' openings, but instead to study them more so that you understand them well and know how to play them correctly. Personally, the Ruy does much better for me than the Scotch and Italian, but I must admit that it took me a couple years to be able to actually learn it all and be able to play it. All that study time sure pays off though.

<Everyone knows the various methods for black against the ruy, such as the marshall gambit, berlin defense, etc. and these are not refutable. (even stuff like the classical defense seem to give black a perfectly happy position) I do not know if black has some clear path to equality in the bishop's opening, but if there is one, nobody is playing it against me or in the GM games i search thru every week in my repitoire.>

First of all, no main line opening is literally 'refutable'. Second, when you say that there's no way for black to acheive equality in the Bishop's Opening you make it sound as if there is a way to easy equality in the Ruy. That's not true; in fact, black's much better off in the Bishop's Opening than in the Ruy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <If you're having trouble with openings like the Ruy or Open Sicilian that are obviously theoretically superior, then the solution is not to avoid them and play 'easier' openings, but instead to study them more so that you understand them well and know how to play them correctly. >

Yo, <chessman95>, chess is a game. He can play any openings he wants.

/Can't we all just get along?

Mar-20-09  blacksburg: <chess is a game>


Mar-20-09  Nuncle: <That's not true; in fact, black's much better off in the Bishop's Opening than in the Ruy.>

I think the difference is marginal, if it exists at all. White does well enough at GM-level with the Bishop's opening, so if the Ruy was /that/ much better, nobody would play 1 ...e5.

Mar-20-09  FiveofSwords: <chessman> just so we understand eachother, i dont think the ruy is bad or illogical and im sure white does just fine there, Its just not for me. You keep pretending like you think the ruy is obviously superior to anything else but I simply find in your comments the signs of a fairly neophyte player who clings to false ideas supported by shallow and naive assumptions. Everyone was like that once, dont give up hope, keep learning!
Mar-20-09  MaxxLange: let's talk about Knight to c3
let's talk about you and me
let's talk about all the good things, and the bad things, that may bring
Mar-20-09  MaxxLange: lets talk about chess...

the conventional idea is: the Ruy offers superior chances,compared to the various KP gambits that White can play, or the Italian etc, against strong players who won't make unforced errors.

the slogan for UNC basketball last year was "take everything, give up nothing" and this is White's idea in the Spanish. The bishop goes to the a2-f7 diagonal, but without ever being exposed on c4. In some of the closed lines, Black even gets faster development, but White is supposed to get better long-term chances if he plays correctly.

Remember what a shock it was when Kasparov broke out the Scotch against Karpov in a World Championship match? GMs had written all that stuff up to a draw because Black has too many risk-free options compared to the Ruy. And his novelties in that game have been more or less neutralized in the long run, too.

Black has winning chances too, but has to take risks - like Radjabov playing the Scchleimann at top level

Mar-20-09  MaxxLange: or maybe that was the football slogan
Mar-21-09  chessman95: <FiveofSwords>

<You keep pretending like you think the ruy is obviously superior to anything else but I simply find in your comments the signs of a fairly neophyte player who clings to false ideas supported by shallow and naive assumptions.>

Look, I've presented several supported arguments as to why the Ruy is superior to other Open Games, and all you've done is responed by calling me <neophyte> and <obviously not a great player>. Continue to disagree with GMs all you want, but simply calling me names doesn't do much to convince me of your knowledge of chess. From the things that you've posted, you're opinion means next to nothing to me.

Mar-21-09  FiveofSwords: its hilarious, you think you have been elected the ambassador of the GMs...but the thing is I play and talk with GMs and better all the time, I dont have this delusion of the GM uberman. Trust me, even if there was some GM hive mind, you would have no idea what it was thinking, and as far as 'conventional wisdom' is concerned, this is coming from where? what book you get this from...and who do you assume is always right?
Mar-21-09  blacksburg: <chessman95> wise man says - do not argue with fools, people at a distance cannot tell the difference.
Mar-21-09  Everyone: <Everyone knows the various methods for black against the ruy, such as the marshall gambit, berlin defense, etc. and these are not refutable.> Hear! Hear!
Mar-25-09  ILikeFruits: i particularly enjoy this opening, i believe it's an exquisite opening for an amateur such as i.
Mar-25-09  Absentee: <FiveofSwords: but the thing is I play and talk with GMs and better all the time>

Like whom?
Besides, you don't need to be an "ambassador" for GMs to see whether an opening is popular at super GM level, and that speaks for itself.

Jul-23-09  muwatalli: does anyone play 1 e4 e5 2 bc4 nc3 3 f4!?
i have been studying the bishops opening lately, and am considering switching over and as an aggressive player am considering this line, any opinions? it seems like a slightly improved kings gambit.
Nov-06-09  Zombie Grenadier: I am a mathematician by trade so I feel I need to add some comments to what has been said before. Chess is a discrete game with full information so it has a solution. It means that with optimal play it can always be a

a) win for white
b) draw
c) win for black

The problem is we do not know which of the above is true. To claim anything of the above as true a formal proof would have to be presented. No such formal proof exists at present which is to say that chess has not been solved yet. Statistical evidence is not a proof (like to claim that most games are a draw). Agreement between GMs is not a proof. Statements like "theoreticians claim that" are not proofs. Given the nature of the game only the extension of the Nalimovs end game tables to the initial position of the game would constitute the proof. I am afraid that it is not going to be possible for quite a long time. It should be added that the fact that the optimal play exists for both sides in any position does not mean that there is only one optimal move in the given position. There may be more than one. An optimal move is any of the moves that GUARANTEES the optimal end result regardless of what the opponent will do. Of course, if the chess is a forced win for white then there are no optimal moves for black. But we could change the objective of the game: Each side tries to play as many moves as possible before the game is decided (this is what is done in practice anyway). Then the following thing can be claimed: there exists a minimal number of moves before the game can be decided and there are optimal moves for both white and black in any position (there may be more than one) which guarantee the achievment of the optimal result. So, even if the chess can always be won by white, black with perfect play can assure that it won't happen before move number x (the value of x is not known, but it exists).

Another point to make is this: From the practical point of view refuting King's Gambit is equivalent to solving chess. It is so because the ORDER of MAGNITUDE of the number of variations needed is essentially the same as that for solving the entire game. Any discussions about this subject are simply pointless. Nobody is going to refute KG, or 1.h4 or any other first one-two movements by White or Black in the forseeable future. Technically it is not possible as of yet. Maybe with quantum computing, who knows? The only considerations with choosing openings can be practical ones. There is no "theory" in chess to be precise. Theory proves things. Chess books only discuss things, to be precise, discuss the empirical practice of the best players. Neither more nor less.

Thus, a lot of the preceding discussion on these pages was perfectly pointless. I hope we can avoid this for the future. Let us discuss ideas but not talk about absolute truths. The absolute truth can only be found in Nalimovs endgame tables. As for now it is a very small portion of the game of chess.

Just my two cents.

Nov-06-09  KamikazeAttack: ZG very interesting post.

Nalimov?? what is that???

Nov-06-09  Zombie Grenadier: According to Wikipedia:

"Eugene Nalimov (born 1965 in Novosibirsk, U.S.S.R.) is a chess programmer and Microsoft employee.

Starting in 1998, he wrote a tablebase generator which included many different endgames. He received a ChessBase award at the ChessBase meeting in Maastricht in 2002 for his work.[1]"

In practice Nalimov tablebase refers to any database of precalculated optimal moves for chess endings. At present optimal moves have been calculated for all 6 pieces set-ups.

Such a database is available here:

Have fun :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <Zombie Grenadier: Just my two cents. >

And a valuable two cents, I'll be bound!

As a mathematician, what is the most reasonable estimate of the total number of chess games and related numbers you have seen? I know the space pales in comparison to Go (although both are staggeringly large), but I've seen many different numbers for both.

May-28-10  Cushion: The only reason for playing the bishop's opening at top level is to avoid the petroff.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: <It means that with optimal play it can always be a

a) win for white
b) draw
c) win for black >

The trend for many years now has been fewer wins with black, but more draws. This suggests that with optimal play white will always retain an advantage, but without a mistake by black this will not be sufficient to win, given the drawing methods at black's disposal (stalemate, inadequate mating material, perpetual check and so on).

Aug-11-11  meppi: hello what do people think about the move 2. f5 against the bishops opening. i started playing it with very good results in club and tournament and online especially. here is a game i played as black with this opening as an example, can anyone analyze how the opening should be played after 2.f5???

1. e4 e5
2. Bc4 f5
3. Bxg8 Rxg8
4. Qh5+ g6
5. Qxh7 Rg7
6. Qh8 fxe4
7. Nc3 d5
8. Nge2 Nc6
9. d4 exd4
10. Nb5 d3
11. Ng3 a6
12. Na3 Ne5
13. Qh6 Rf7
14. Qd2 Qf6
15. 0-0 Bh3
16. Qe3 Bxa3
17. Bd2 Bxb2
18. Rab1 Bd4
19. Nxe4 Qf3
20. gxf3 Bxe3
21. fxe3 dxe4
22. f4 Bxf1
23. fxe5 dxc2
24. Rxf1 0-0-0
25. Rxf7 Rxd2 0-1

Aug-11-11  SimonWebbsTiger: @meppi

the only problem I can see is 3. Nf3 taking the game into the Latvian Gambit

Jan-12-13  Gely of the Horde: I have found myself happily stuck in the late 18th century with Philidor and his merry band of "first rate players" in London (hi <beatgiant> many thanks for your comments if you see this) and since the Bishop's Opening was truly the Truth back then I came to this Kibitz for some grounding. Fasinating discussion! Some thoughts and questions:

<It is true that most games that are won or lost are won because of blunders and rarely bcause of pure outplaying . . .> cf. Mar-12-09 <chessmaster95> in the Bishop's Opening Kibizing responding to <Octal>. Could somebody explain the difference between me making a "blunder" versus someone "outplaying" me? No need to split hairs, I'm not that good, just the obvious differences between the two at the extremes would be helpful.

A grandmaster (might have) once said something along the lines of not being afraid of ghosts, that if you can't see a clear and immedidate tactical disaster, play the move(s) you want to play. Does anybody know this reference?

Among other high level players, Lasker and Korchnoi were infamous for often playing objectively "inferior", or at least unpopular, lines with the idea that to play for a win they had to create situations where the tactical problems to be solved were beyond their opponent's ability. I have always suspected that the stunning and eerie success of Fischer and Morphy in their brief flashes of total dominance was the ability to find a question to put to their (talented) opponents that was beyond their current understanding. I would hazard a guess that this might also describe Kasparov in his prime.

Regarding whether chess is a draw or not, glancing though some of the postings of the formidable team versus world famous grandmasters (is there any other kind?) there seems to be a concensus that it takes about five "mistakes" on the opponent's part to force a win. Their definition of "mistake" involves errors too subtle for me to comprehend, but it implies to me at this point in history those at the cutting edge have an empirical (versus theoretical) belief that the game is drawn with best play.

Fine believed that the goal of White was to build on his initial advantage, and the goal of Black was to to equalize. A grandmaster (might have) said that the amount of knowledge needed to live up to Fine's expectations was beyond most players' ability and time, and that the goal of the opening should be to obtain a "playable" middle game, and preferably a middle game your oppenent finds less playable. Does anybody know this reference?

Feb-18-13  FiveofSwords: @meppi this is known as the catalan gambit and its fine. White's best response is actually probably d3 and then you will most likely get a sort of reversed bishops opening. Be aware that since white was willing to play the bishops opening he probably understands pretty well the source of black's coutnerplay as from a practical standpoint thats probably not so wise.
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